Monthly Archives: October 2015
The lore and mystique of the SCOBY has, especially in recent years, begun to eclipse its initial intended sphere of influence, that being the royalty and progenitor of our beloved kombucha tea. Perhaps not oddly, as kombucha is the friend of the strange, weird and esoteric, SCOBYs have come to be personified with names and fantasied colloquial banter as virally as cat pictures and comic memes.
With benevolent intent and playful attitude have we come to accept and cherish our squishy brew pals, and assuredly any long time brewer has, in rudimentary culinary rites, christened their yeasty lord with names such as "SCOBY Doo," "Diane," or "Bon SCOBI."
Mother Knows Best
It is in this spirit of playful reverence that we've allowed our cultures to appropriate many other roles outside the realm of kombucha brewing, as if showing a new friend around town - one who you don't want to return home, and one with whom you desperately cling to at every moment's turn. As we've proselytized before, SCOBYs aren't just for making kombucha - we've been eating them for health, energy, and economy; we've been drying them to use as art, as bio-sustainable fabrics, and as decoration; we've resorted to secret, late-night conversations with the wiser, older mothers, seeking the gratification of divulgence and guarantee of secrecy.
It is with this transparency and acceptance that kombucha candy, our SCOBY Rancher Snacks have poignantly fortified their place in the traditions of our end-of-year holidays - the earthy, spicy affect of clove and cinnamon on something which, when dehydrated, tastes commonly of apples, is a classic archetype of holiday consumption. And appropriately, with their enigmatic appearance and semi-mythological following and observance, SCOBYs make an excellent format for Halloween's over-the-top actualization in which the weird is allowed a little more credulity and merit.
Don't Be Scared!
Even the seasoned brewer can cringe at the thought of consuming their gelatinous, chewy buddies, and most people say the reason for their reluctance is texture. However, we've converted many would-be naysayers to SCOBY-munching elite with the delicious preparation of this genre-morphing sweet and sour treat. Even for the pensive first-time consumer, these treats are insanely tasty and are always fewer in quantity than demand would prefer.
So, if you're looking for a way to expand your considerations of the possibilities of the SCOBY, look no further than your new favorite treat, sure to please at all of your Halloween festivities: SCOBY Rancher Snacks.
- 4 (1 inch thick) SCOBYs
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tablespoon shredded licorice root
- 1 teaspoon whole allspice
- 1 tablespoon sassafras extract
- 1 tablespoon sarsaparilla extract
- 6 cups filtered water
- 4 cups organic cane sugar
- Cut your SCOBYs into small cubes and rinse them in a colander to remove tea and yeast filaments. Set aside to drain off as much as possible.
- Boil the 6 cups of water and add spices. Allow to boil for at least 10 minutes.
- Remove from heat and add 3 cups of the sugar, and stir. Allow the mixture to cool.
- Strain out spices.
- Place the drained SCOBY cubes and cooled sugar water mixture in a bowl, cover, and let marinate for 24 hours in the refrigerator. Drain and refrigerate the sugar marinade for future SCOBY snack-making.
- Pour the sugary SCOBYs onto parchment sheets in an even layer and dehydrate at 110 F for 16 to 20 hours, until the SCOBYs are the consistency of a soft, chewy gummy bear.
- Once dehydrated, prepare a tray or bowl with the remaining 1 cup of sugar inside. Remove SCOBY pieces from parchment paper, and roll each piece in the sugar.
- Store the candies in bags or airtight containers covered in more sugar to preserve them.
Enjoy, but be careful with whom you share these delicious morsels. You'll continue to receive requests for them long after the final SCOBY Rancher Snack is gone. Not a bad reason to stock up on SCOBYs!
Making kombucha can be a beautiful endeavor. Once you get past the newness of the operation, a new SCOBY forming on the surface is a beautiful sight. There are a few things, unfortunately, that can ruin that sight. One is mold - it's something we have covered quite a bit. The other is fruit flies.
The number one enemy in the world of unwanted invaders, the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) is everywhere. In every brew space I’ve ever been I’ve seen these little buggers buzzing around. Even in tightly controlled environments like our SCOBY Lab we see them fly up seemingly out of nowhere. Sometimes it seems like they appear out of thin air (I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the case). There are tricks to getting rid of them, but even more important is keeping them out of your brew jar.
What should one use to cover a brew vessel during fermentation? Your kombucha wants to breathe fresh oxygen during fermentation - so sealing your jar with a hard lid is out of the question. Therefore we turn to material that is porous enough to let air in, but not porous enough to allow fruit flies inside. Our material of choice is organic cotton. It has a tight weave, that if correctly secured to the jar, will not allow fruit flies to get inside. Other materials with the same weave will also work well. A paper towel, an old t-shirt, or even a coffee filter will work great.
One material that is commonly used, but should not be, is cheese cloth. Although it is designed for food production, it is too porous. Even if it is layered multiple times. We get emails all the time from new brewers using cheese cloth that have a family of fruit flies hanging out on their culture. When this happens the brew must be scrapped.
It only takes one
Once one fruit fly gets in, it's all over
First, it will quickly lay its eggs which then turn in to maggots
After a few days, they will turn into full-grown fruit flies
The process is quick and before you know it, you have a many flies buzzing around your jar
But don’t be afraid. With a simple piece of cloth and rubber band, you will be safe from these unwanted but familiar pests!
Knowing your brew is doing well is vital. That’s why we are here to diagnose any concern you might have. We see hundreds of pictures every week from home brewers all over the world. In order for us to make a sound diagnosis there is a certain set of questions and pictures that will tell us what is going on. Here is a brew diagnosis checklist for you to complete before submitting a query.
In making sure there is not a problem with a brew we need to see pictures. Luckily, taking and sending pictures is an easy every day activity. The ideal set consists of three images:
3. Profile shot of entire brew
The more pictures the merrier. Don’t feel like these are the only shots you should send if you have the will to send more. In the event that there are still questions after viewing the photos we may request a couple more shots of any area of concern.
With most inquiries we will ask the same set of questions. The answers will give us a reason for an issue if there is one and will help us guide you to make the necessary changes to your brew set up.
- What is the average temperature of the brew while it is fermenting?
- How long has it been fermenting?
- Where did the original SCOBY (mother, mushroom, culture) come from?
- How much starter liquid was used?
- What tea/blend and sweetener was used, and what quantity?
We can almost know everything we need to know just from these five questions. As with pictures though, if there is something specific we need more information on, we will ask.
As you can see diagnosing a brew is just as easy as brewing. With only a few simple steps we will gladly tell you what’s going on. In 95% of the cases we see, when using a proper set up there is nothing actually going on, just a new brewer needing some confirmation on their brew.